Monday, April 20, 2009
Do the hump, do the humpetty hump...
In Wadi Rum I clambered up on my camel first, and was happy to have had a good grip when it lurched to it's feet before the camel driver asked her to do so. When you're up on a camel the hump is a good 7 feet off the sands, and you go from ground to up very quickly.
Bethy was carefully put up in front of me, then Mike got on his camel. Just as he took hold of Thomas by the shoulder his less than well-behaved camel decided to stand up as well. From my perspective on the other camel it was Thomas screaming as he was yanked up and dangled and spun, flailing above the shifting feet of the uneasy camel. This was, not to put too fine a point on it, a terrifying moment, Thomas shrieking as though his shoulder was being pulled out of its socket, the camel thumping its heavy feet as Thomas swung dangerously. Mike, hanging out of his saddle, said options were racing through his mind in the few seconds: when he had a chance he flung Thomas clear of the camel to thump down in the sand.
Poor Thomas was traumatized and let the world know it. Our camel driver gently picked him up and gave a quick cuddle, then handed him to Mike up on the big bad camel. Thomas wanted a parent, but was pretty sure camel riding had fallen from favorite thing to a terrifying experience he wanted nothing to do with. He sobbed and sobbed which faded to hiccoughs. Finally he chatttered away with Mike, talking himself through his feelings until he was relaxed enough to enjoy the ride. Which he did, though his usual endless giggling was not a component this time around.
The camel ride was about an hour though the sands around the mountain, into beautiful scenery, as the camel driver led us and sang an Arabic walking cadence song. My camel was tied by it's lead reins to Mike's camel and one could see this did not please my camel. Essentially, my camel wanted to go first, so instead of following placidly, it pushed up so it was at least next to, if not in front of, Mike's camel.
This would have been fine except that this jammed my leg up against Mikes, which again would have been fine except that the camel saddle beneath us was made with plywood sorts of boards in an inverted V shape. On the top it was well-padded and comfortable for tourist behinds, but on the side the board was exposed so I was getting a series of grinding bruises on my calf every time the camels body tagged each other. I tried riding with my leg bent all the way and pulled back, which may work for Bedoiuns, but not too well for me for an extended period of time, and finally started pushing away the other camel with my foot whenever it got too close.
This worked well for a time, and my camel seemed to settle for following in second place. For a while we enjoyed the side to side loping motion, the tracks in the sand, the sculptures of the rocks. Then, for reasons known only to a camel, my camel reached the end of her patience and visciously bit Mike's camel on it's upper thigh. Ouch. Mike's camel showed remarkable patience with this, which didn't suit my camel at all.
So, my camel, being the well brought up lady that she was, bit the other camel again, this time directly beneath the tail.
That's gotta hurt. I was having visions of a camel fight with our two kids on top of the camels in front of us being dragged into the fray. Our camel driver sized me up and paid me the compliment of handing me the reins to get my camel the heck away from the other one. He demonstrated the tongue cluck sound to encourage the camel, not dissimilar to the one you'd use with horses, and grinned as Bethy and I tried out our Arabic.
Yalla: OK, go.
Imshee: go away! Walk!
Hayya: move it!
So I got to drive my own camel, which made me pretty darned happy.
And there was no more beneath the tail biting or kid flinging, phew.